“Do you want to move to Dubai?” Bob came home with the question over Memorial Day weekend. He’d been offered a neat position with his company in the United Arab Emirate famous for its unique architecture and Western-friendly business climate. After making lists, shedding tears, and doing research, we decided as a family that if we found a good school situation for our daughters, the experience would be incredible.
Other families have similar priorities. We were told that any Dubai school with an “American” curriculum had stopped accepting applications for next year, because their classes were full with long waiting lists. So on June 8th, we boarded a plane to Dubai, in order for the girls to interview and test for the few available spots in international schools.
Through an online women’s network, I found an education consultant who helped us locate schools which would best serve our kids. Fiona steered us toward Jumeira Baccalaureate School, a two-year-old International Baccalaureate school with a staff of master teachers and excellent leadership. They graciously welcomed our girls (who are both terrific students as well as nice people). Many prayers have been answered, as this appears to be a wonderful fit for our family.
So my blog is destined to become a “Dubai diary,” looking at human interactions from a new perspective. All the sociology and anthropology courses I took in college seemed quite relevant as we observed the mash-up of cultures in the Dubai malls. (Imagine a Paris fashion store packed with female shoppers in black ‘abayas.’)
Dubai is a modern Constantinople, a trade center near the intersection of three continents, with people from many countries and cultures living together. Our daughters will represent America in their international classrooms.
I love the way such exposure to diversity teaches us about ourselves. Encounters with other ways of thinking, dressing, worshipping, etc. makes you see your own customs more clearly. Differences can feel threatening until you get used to them. Or they can be funny. For example, Emirates Airlines allows you to bring your hunting falcon “hooded and tethered of course” into the cabin as accompanied baggage, but dogs may only fly to Dubai as cargo. Is this a matter of practicality or different priorities? We certainly wouldn’t want our asthmatic Shih Tzu becoming falcon fodder in either section of the plane!
I’ve understood the meaning of “head spinning” news over the last month. (Actually checked the neck tethers a few times to be sure I couldn’t do an Exorcist imitation. And my family would tell you I’ve seemed a tad possessed….) But now that the most important decisions are made, we are settling into a busy summer of cleaning out, packing up, and saying good-bye, so we can say ‘hello’ to Dubai at the end of August.